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Before You Buy A Hard Disk Camcorder - Digital Video Recording Media Explained

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When buying a camcorder you'll need to decide on a digital video recording media format. There are three popular types of digital video recording media: Mini DV tape, DVD, and hard disk.

Each medium has its advantages and disadvantages. It's good to understand how each digital video recording medium performs before you select which one you'll use.

Hard disk camcorders offer many advantages. This is a relatively new digital video recording media but one well worth checking out.

Cost

A big advantage of hard disk camcorders is that there are no extra costs associated with recording video.

With a hard disk camcorder you record video directly onto a hard disk installed in the camcorder. This same hard disk is used throughout the life of the camcorder so you never need to pay for new tapes or disks.

However, because recorded footage needs to be deleted from the camera's hard disk, you will need to pay for a way to store the video over the long term (see "Archiving," below). This could include mini DV tapes, DVDs or an external hard drive.

Recording Time

The recording time for a hard disk camcorder is dictated by the size of the disk. With some hard disk camcorders you can record for hours and hours before the disk gets full.

Once the hard disk fills up you'll need to delete some footage or transfer it to your computer before you can continue recording.

Viewing

Video footage recorded on a hard disk camcorder can be viewed directly on the camera, or on a TV with a camcorder hooked up to it.

Viewing the footage doesn't put any wear and tear on your camcorder. Also, because the footage on the hard disk can be randomly accessed, you can jump around between scenes without fast forwarding or rewinding.

Editing

It's simple to edit video footage shot on a hard disk camcorder, and even easier to import the footage onto your computer.

Transferring video between the hard disk in your camcorder and the hard disk on your computer happens almost instantaneously so there's no more waiting for a tape to play as there is with mini DV tapes.

Archiving

You will need a separate system for archiving the video footage shot with a hard disk camcorder. You can store the footage on an external hard drive or, to save space, transfer it to DVDs or mini DV tapes.

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